Posts Tagged “bill maher”

US DVD cover for Religulous, via MoviePosterDBIt’s no surprise that religionists aren’t fond of atheist Bill Maher. He’s been condemning their religionism for years. They get their knickers in knots almost every time the guy says something. They’re incensed that some insolent atheist dares say atheistic things … and they quite simply can’t tolerate it. The most recent example of their insane fury over the guy, comes from the keyboard of evangelical Christian Tristan Emmanuel who’s called for Maher to be “whipped” for having uttered blasphemy (locally-cached article):

Bill-asphemy: Does Maher Deserve A Whipping For Slandering God? [title]

I think it’s time to bring back blasphemy laws.

And here is why…

“… the thing that’s really disturbing about Noah isn’t that it is silly, it’s that it’s immoral. It’s about a psychotic mass murderer who gets away with it, and his name is God… What kind of tyrant punishes everyone just to get back at the few he’s mad at? I mean, besides Chris Christie.” — Bill Maher

And then he added this little ditty:

“Hey, God, you know, you’re kind of a dick when you’re in a movie with Russell Crowe and you’re the one with anger issues.” — Bill Maher.…

Here is an example of how America once dealt with the likes of Bill Maher.

“Be it declared and enacted by the Lieutenant Governor, Council and Representatives, convened in General Assembly, and it is enacted by the Authority of the same, that if any person shall presume willfully to blaspheme the holy Name of God, Father, Son, or Holy Ghost; either by denying, cursing or reproaching the true God; his Creation or Government of the World: or by denying, cursing, or reproaching the holy Word of God… everyone so offending shall be punished by imprisonment, not exceeding six months, and until they find sureties for good behaviours; by sitting in pillory; by whipping; boaring thorow the tongue, with a red hot iron; or sitting upon the gallows with a rope about their neck; at the discretion of the court…” — Massachusetts General Laws.

Of course, Emmanuel concedes Maher has a right to say what he wants … he just doesn’t think Christians should permit him to, anyway:

[Maher] may have protection under the First Amendment to say whatever slanderous thing that comes out of his toilet bowl brain, but that does not mean Christians should turn the other cheek.

(Actually, Mr Emmanuel, you Christians are required always to “turn the other cheek.” Jesus offered no exceptions or caveats in his instructions. You must do it, every single fucking time, without fail, and without excuse. But I digress.)

Emmanuel hurls the requisite anti-atheist Bible verse (Psalm 14:1) at Maher, as though this one verse justifies any believer doing anything s/he wants to Maher because he’s an insolent non-believer. Personally, I don’t find that Bible verse convincing, and I don’t expect Maher does, either. I mean, it was written a little over 2,000 years ago by a self-righteous semi-nomadic scribe somewhere in the Near East, who obviously was angry that there were actually people in his world who dared not believe in the deity he did, and he couldn’t control his outrage over it. I certainly am not impressed by that infuriated scribe’s opinions or complaints. When Christianists throw that verse at me, I know they’ve run out of rational material and are resorting to name-calling … and that tells me everything I need to know about them, and about their religion.

Emmanuel repeatedly uses the word “slander” in his screed, as though Maher’s blasphemy is the crime or tort of slander. But it’s not. I’m no lawyer, but as I understand it, in the US, to prevail in a slander case, one must demonstrate two things: First, that the statement in question is factually incorrect; and second, that the person making it knows it to be factually incorrect. I invite Emmanuel to demonstrate that YHWH is not the “psychotic mass-murderer” Maher said he was. He would first have to show that YHWH exists in the first place, then demonstrate he isn’t the “psychotic mass murderer” Maher said he was. I wish him the best of luck doing that. He won’t be able to … but I suppose he can try.

Another tactic Emmanuel uses is to claim that by “slandering” God, Maher is “slandering” his believers. This is just a way of (falsely) personalizing what Maher said, reframing it as something other than it was. Apparently by calling their God a “psychotic mass murderer,” Maher attacked his followers. Well, too bad. He didn’t. Moreoever, to identify oneself with one’s deity and to assume anything negative said about the deity is an “attack” one oneself, is presumption of the tallest order … and irrational.

Emmanuel piles onto his illogic with the claim that blaspheming his God is the same thing as threatening the president. But it isn’t. They’re two different things. Threatening the president is one thing, and it is (sometimes) illegal. But saying YHWH is “a psychotic mass murderer” is something else entirely.

There’s a saying among non-believers that blasphemy is a victimless crime. Effectively, it is. Even if there were a God who is mortally insulted whenever anyone blasphemes him/her/it, the cold fact is that s/he/it is literally unharmed by it. Assuming YHWH exists, how can Maher calling him “a psychotic mass murderer” damage him? He can’t. Maher is a mere mortal, whereas YHWH is supposedly an omnipotent being. Maher cannot harm YHWH in the slightest way, ever. Not by his words, and not by his actions. Maher’s blasphemy also does not harm YHWH’s followers, such as Emmanuel. They can just continue believing whatever they wish, however they wish; nothing Maher says can ever prevent them from doing so.

Blasphemy hurts no one and nothing, except maybe for the feelings of believers … but then, religiofascists like Emmanuel obviously have no reservations about hurting the feelings of Maher — which he did indirectly by tossing out a quotation of Ps 14:1 which refers to him as a “fool,” “corrupt,” and “abominable,” and directly by calling Maher “morally bankrupt.” So he pretty much forfeited the moral high ground here … if he had even been standing on it in the first place.

The bottom line is that an omnipotent being like YHWH can take care of himself. He doesn’t need sanctimoniously-angry followers like Emmanuel sticking up for him and whipping people who say negative things about him. If YHWH objects to Maher’s remark, or his atheism, he has the power to do something about it. If he chooses not to, then Emmanuel should just shut his self-righteous face already and stop doing for his God what his own God will not do for himself.

Hat tip: Raw Story.

Photo credit: Religulous DVD cover, via MoviePosterDB.

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cuisine des sorcières (Staatlich museum, Berlin)The news that “tea partier” and vehement Religious Rightist Christine O’Donnell won the Delaware Republican primary for Senate has been all over the news for several days. Most of those stories have been punctuated by tales of her Christian-puritanical weirdness, e.g. her hatred of masturbation and assertion that viewing pornography equates with adultery (WebCite cached article). It also turns out that she’s a paranoid conspiracist, having claimed that scientists are cross-breeding humans and animals (locally cached).

But perhaps the strangest thing of all about O’Donnell, is this ABC News report (based on footage released by Bill Maher) that she claimed to have dabbled in witchcraft in the past (cached):

On Friday, Maher released on his new HBO show, “Real Time,” an unaired clip of O’Donnell admitting to a brief dalliance with witchcraft.

“I dabbled into witchcraft — I never joined a coven. But I did, I did. I dabbled into witchcraft. I hung around people who were doing these things. I’m not making this stuff up. I know what they told me they do,” she said.

“One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar, and I didn’t know it. I mean, there’s little blood there and stuff like that,” she said. “We went to a movie and then had a midnight picnic on a satanic altar.”

Here’s the Bill Maher show video segment in question, courtesy of ABC News:

Thus the walking freakshow which is Christine O’Donnell became even freakier.

When I read this, I was immediately reminded of another fervent evangelical Christian who likewise had claimed to have dabbled in witchcraft and the occult: Mike Warnke. His story grew more elaborate as he told it; he claimed to have been a Satanic “high priest” (whatever that may have meant), and that he’d taken part in some hair-raising, if not obscene, profane Satanic rituals. Through the late ’70s and the 80s he made a career as a preacher and Christian comedian, telling stories of his action in Vietnam and then his Satanic tenure. He wrote The Satan Seller, a memoir which was a best-seller in avid Christian circles. But in the early ’90s, he was exposed as a fraud by a series of articles in the (Christian) Cornerstone Magazine. Despite the Cornerstone exposé and the evidence it was based on, Warnke initially insisted he’d been telling the truth. He subsequently conceded having stretched the truth on a few points, but to this day has never really admitted having lied about his past. Nevertheless, despite his attempts to make a comeback, his once-thriving career as a preacher is pretty much dead. (Unreasonable Faith blog has an excellent encapsulation of Warnke and his scandal.)

I can’t help but wonder if O’Donnell is playing the same game that Warnke had. If so, given that she’s been active in evangelical Christianity for several years by the time she said this, I can only assume she’s aware of Warnke and how his career and life unraveled, and am forced to wonder … what the fuck was she thinking?

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Last week I blogged about Bill Maher joining the likes of Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Arianna Huffington, and Jenny McCarthy by revealing himself to be an Antivaxer. I found it surprising that an established skeptic like Maher would turn out to be such a brainless loon when it comes to vaccines … and I wasn’t alone, judging by the reaction to his Antivaxism. Well, he responded to that reaction by claiming not to be “crazy” and by digging his heels in on the matter, as reported in the Mediaite blog:

Just as Beck has warned against the dangers of the vaccination, especially relating to Swine Flu, Maher continued his path of medical conspiracy theory, to the annoyance of his guests and confusion of his audience.

“They said I was crazy in the New York Times on Monday,” said Maher, mid-way through the show, referring to this from the Times (that didn’t exactly call him “crazy”).

He’s still in denial, as Mediaite goes on to explain:

Still, Maher felt he had to “clear up a few things that people have been writing about me that are not true.” Among them: “I’m not a germ theory denier” and “I do understand the theory of inoculation.”

But with the air cleared, Maher wasn’t going to leave it there. He continued rambling on, about mercury and teeth and H1N1 and polio.

Maher finished his remarks by citing the numbers of deaths from medical errors and thus implying that medicine cannot be trusted. This is, of course, bullshit. The principle of vaccination works, without regard to whether or not other types of medical errors hurt people. The two are not actually related — and a man like Maher who’s otherwise able to think critically, probably knows this. Which makes me wonder what Maher’s angle may be with his Antivaxism.

In case you wanted to see this segment of his show, here it is:

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You can add another to the (unfortunately long, and growing) list of people in the mass media who’ve enlisted in the forces of Antivax … Bill Maher. He “doesn’t believe in them.” His stated reasons for this appear to be “distrust of government” and “distrust of ‘western medicine.'” The New York Times Well blog reports on Maher’s interview of former Senator Bill Frist (R-TN):

Mr. Maher recently told his Twitter followers that people who get flu shots are “idiots.” On his Friday HBO show “Real Time With Bill Maher,” he explained his opposition to the flu vaccine during an interview with Bill Frist, a heart surgeon who was a Republican senator from Tennessee.

Mr. Maher questioned letting someone stick “a disease into your arm,” wrongly implying that the flu shot contains a live virus. The flu shot is a killed vaccine. (Only the nasal mist vaccine contains a weakened live virus.)

Maher is fact-deprived on a number of other counts as well, such as:

He said he did not believe that healthy people were vulnerable to dying from the new H1N1 virus. This contradicts statements from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that young, healthy people from ages 5 to 24 appear particularly vulnerable to this flu.

Maher was unable to say anything in response to Frist pointing out that the polio and smallpox vaccines had wiped out these illnesses during the 20th century and thus saved millions of lives in the long term.

This blog entry includes a Youtube video of the interview, so you can get a taste of how truly nutty Maher is … and how well-reasoned Frist is, by comparison. I say this because during his Senate tenure, Frist had been an outspoken proponent of unthinking religiosity; if Frist really has “turned over a new leaf,” as this interview suggests may be the case, I’m gratified to see it.

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